Back to Broadway!

“Little Shop of Horrors” star Conrad Ricamora after the show with Dean Theresa Lee of the UT College of Arts & Sciences.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, about 45 die-hard patrons of the Clarence Brown Theatre packed up and headed to New York City earlier this month to see plays, eat at great restaurants and meet with some University of Tennessee alumni working and living in the Big Apple.

The beauty of this annual trip is that the good folks at the Clarence Brown Theatre select the plays and get the tickets, arrange for the hotel and a few group gatherings and come along to offer insights and advice along the way.

It is very fun and Alan and I highly recommend you consider this unique experience.

But first, here are a couple of things to know about what’s happening in New York’s Theater District right now:

  1. It is very difficult to get a taxi. Uber and Lyft rides are problematic, as well. Even with help from our hotel doormen, we had to cancel at least one reservation because we simply couldn’t get a ride. In another instance, we just opted to walk from the get-go, knowing it would take more than 30 minutes. So, bring good walking shoes and plan accordingly.
  2. The theaters are very strict about mask wearing. The folks in our group were fine with that policy, but be aware and, again, plan accordingly.

The plays this year were “Macbeth” starring Daniel Craig as the title character; “Hadestown;” “Funny Girl;” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” an optional off-Broadway add-on. We opted in because it starred Conrad Ricamora, who attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee, receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree in acting in 2012.  Click here for a great New York Times article about his career and his struggle against Asian American stereotypes in show business. We saw his second-to-last performance in Little Shop.

This blog post will focus on the trip’s theatrical-related activities. Next post: the food! There was a lot of it!

This version of “Macbeth,” playing at the Longacre Theatre, was set in modern times. These are two of the witches. They were on stage prior to the play opening, and they actually were cooking a stew or something the cast would later eat on stage. The aroma wafted through the theater. (I just hope it didn’t contain the ingredients that Shakespeare said it did!)

You are not allowed to take photos during the plays. And I even got scolded for taking some during curtain call at one play. But I learned a long time ago from my reporting days that, if you are going to do something that might get you kicked out, do it at the END of the performance!

A note about this play. Jane Cox, a professional with  Clarence Brown Theatre connections, is the lighting director and has been nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Lighting Design for a Play.” She directed the lighting for several Clarence Brown plays in the late ’90s, taught some master classes there and used UT master students as assistants. The Tony Awards air June 12. Fingers crossed for her.

Lunch one day was at the famous theater-based club called The Players on Gramercy Park South.

Our theater group has been to The Players before, so Alan and I declined to take the tour this year. You can see some of the tour in this post from 2016.

Unlike previous years, we didn’t have plated service for lunch, but a pretty good buffet. Unfortunately, the historic building is not air-conditioned and one of the most memorable things about our visit was the heat.

Our friend Lezah Pinnell is nothing if not creative. Here she is using a plate from the buffet table as a fan!

As lunch ended, Isabel Clark from our table made a run for the buffet and brought back desserts for all of us! Aren’t they pretty?

Alan Carmichael and Nancy Voith as we left The Players.

Our next play was “Funny Girl” at the August Wilson Theatre.

At curtain call, from left, Ramin Karimloo, Beanie Feldstein and Jane Lynch (one of my favorites!).

We were lucky in that star Beanie Feldstein was in the performance we saw. According to media reports (like this one), she has been missing quite a few shows lately.

One of my favorite remarks from the trip came from my friend Julie Howard when I said that the character of Nick (Ramin Karimloo) didn’t seem to have much chemistry with Feldstein, who played his love interest, Fanny Brice.

Said Julie, “Well Nick had chemistry with ME! And that’s what matters!” Ha.

The set of “Hadestown,” which we saw at Walter Kerr Theatre. (As if “Macbeth had not been violent enough!)

Curtain call.

André de Shields, who played Hermes. He’s 76 and knocked it out of the park!

“Little Shop of Horrors” was at Westside Theatre/Upstairs.

Audrey 2. A very bad plant – with a smart mouth, to boot!

Curtain call. UT grad Conrad Ricamora is third from right.

Conrad Ricamora, right, with Tom Cervone, managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre, after the show.

Ricamora with Brooks Clark, Julie Howard and Sara Phillips, right.

Alan Carmichael and Ricamora.

The alumni reception, which is always fun, was at Tito Murphy’s, 346 W. 46th St., in Hell’s Kitchen. (Maybe this is Tito??)

Some of our group, from left, Maureen Dunn McBride and Neil McBride, Trish and Lyle Irish, and Margie Nichols.

UT alums Shea Madison, left, and Emily Cullum with Casey Sams, right, a professor of theater at UT who stepped in as interim department head after Cal MacLean announced his retirement last year.

Members of our group, Julie Howard and Ted Flickinger.

The food was fab! From left, Kenneth Creed, my excited husband, Alan Carmichael, and Jane Creed.

Alums Brady and Chloe Bilbrey Moldrup with UT’s Tom Cervone, right.


David Ratliff, left, and Tom Cervone. David, lead house manager at Clarence Brown, was a big part of planning and executing this trip.

Casey Sams and Kenton Yeager. He heads the master’s program in Entertainment Lighting Design and Technology and is head of undergraduate studies in the theater department.

Alum Keegan Tucker, left, and Crystal-Marie Alberson with Tom Cervone.

Marsha and Art Mitchell, members of our group.

From left, Kenton Yeager, Brooks Clark and Lee Riedinger.

Sara Phillips and Lyle Irish.

Dean Theresa Lee and Jack Love of the Department of Religious Studies at UT.

From left, alum, Carl Tallent, Erin O’Leary, Amelia Mathews and Josh Garon.

So, I think you get the idea about what a great trip this is — and I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic eateries we booked. Most of my colleagues on the trip disagreed with me, but I’d rank the plays in this order:

  1. “Little Shop of Horrors.” I can’t help it. I love puppets. And Conrad Ricamora.
  2. “Macbeth.” I love Daniel Craig.
  3. “Funny Girl.” The only non-violent play of the bunch!
  4. “Hadestown.” I liked it. But I liked the others more!

For the record, many others in our group ranked “Hadestown” at the top.


Filed under: Theater, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Back to Broadway!

  1. Alan Carmichael, on May 31st, 2022 at 1:19 pm said:

    And then there was the cabbie who tried to put us out in the middle of Eighth Avenue because he didn’t want to go around the block to drop us at the hotel front door. We declined, and he took us to the hotel.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on May 31st, 2022 at 4:29 pm said:

    Alan: Yes. I believe we did the right thing — considering all that luggage we would have been hauling!

  3. Brooks Clark, on June 1st, 2022 at 8:37 am said:

    Love it! See you next year!

  4. Georgiana Vines, on June 1st, 2022 at 8:39 am said:

    Glad to catch up with Conrad Ricamora. Thanks for your posts on him and everyone.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on June 1st, 2022 at 10:04 am said:

    Brooks: Thanks for reading and commenting. You are such a big part of these trips. We have a blast when we get to sit with you!

    Georgiana: I was looking at some old Blue Streaks and noticed that you used to come to these trips! I wish you would do it again! Bring Fran!

Leave a Reply